The Haiyan Typhoon in the Philippines is one of the largest Typhoons in recent history. It’s considered a natural disaster with humanitarian issues where large scale population displacement has occurred, and access to basic services such as food, water, shelter, health and protection are ongoing challenges. A global response is underway to support the efforts of the Philippine government’s response.
Below are some facts from the Philippine United Nation Office of Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA); one organization that mobilizes to assist governments in coordinating disaster and humanitarian response around the world.
- Typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda) was a Category 5 Typhoon that hit at 4:40 AM and made landfall south of Tacloban City, and also made landfall on Leyte province, Daanbantayan and Bantayan Islands and Iloio Province. 9.8 million people have been affected, that’s almost the entire Chicago Metro, Lake Cook and Gary metropolitan areas.
- As part of disaster preparedness efforts communities were instructed to evacuate and now ~390,000 people are estimated in 1316 evacuation centers.
- The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is the lead response agency in Philippines.
- Immediately after the event, telecommunication, logistics (access to airports/seaports) and electricity were interrupted, especially in Tacloban City. Many families are unable to connect to loved ones both within the Philippines but also with families around the world. Organizations are faced with the challenges of trying to distribute food, water and other relief goods due to a shortage of gas, blocked roads and limited communications. This is a frequent humanitarian challenge during large scale disasters.
- In the upcoming days, relief efforts will likely continue to address access to affected areas, communications, logistics, water, sanitation, health and livelihoods. UN OCHA will be reporting on the following: Emergency Telecommunications, Logistics, WASH, Food Security, Health, Nutrition, Protection, Education and Early Recovery.
4 Things you should know about Large Scale Natural Disasters & Humanitarian Crisis:
Local first– First responders in disasters of this kind are local. They are local governments, churches, temples, local leaders, and local health providers. And in this disaster, the lead agency is the Philippine Government, specifically the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
It is more than just medicine. While health is a major and crucial sector of response, its is inherently tethered to logistics, communication, coordination, access to water, sanitation and security. Somewhat similar to our work in the ED. We need a safe environment, electricity, water, etc, to do the best jobs we can for our patients, their families and the community at large. While there are acute needs for medical care, those with expertise in emergency care in resource limited settings, and especially those with humanitarian training and experience with the local context are best fit to travel to the region if invited to support existing efforts.
How to Help Now…& Later– Cash donations are the best way to contribute to what will be a very difficult response effort; that will continue on for many months. Sending clothes, water bottles and other in kind goods often create more harm than good despite very good intentions. Also many organization may purchase goods with cash donations from within the Philippines. This potentially supports the regional and local economy which may be just as important than immediate response, but supporting long term recovery. Think about donating again in the future, when others may have forgotten that the need is still great, and when the media coverage has abated. Communities still need support to rebuild their homes, schools farms, and lives many months later and those contributions are very valuable.
Stay Informed & Spread the Word– In the coming day, there will be many updates on the response. Stay informed about what communities, the Government response, Asian partner countries and the global community are doing to support those affected by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) Here are some good resources: